The on-going farmers’ protests against the new Farm Laws and the not-so-visible workers’ protest against the new Labour Laws, are peaceful and principled. However, the government’s insistence that the new laws are in the best interest of farmers and workers remains the reason for the current deadlock.

The farmers’ and workers’ protests are undeniably deeply political just as much as they are socio-economic, since they are in defence of their lives, livelihoods and lands. Opposition political parties are undoubtedly trying to make use of the strength, size and spread of these protests for their own ends, just as the present ruling party did when it was in opposition in similar circumstances.

Wealthy farmers or political parties joining the small farmers’ protests surely have their own agendas, but this does not in any manner detract from the validity of the fundamental reasons for the protests.

The farmers-workers protests are not influenced by political-party interests and agendas, whatever government may choose to believe or state.

While speaking of farmers and workers, the generations-long pent-up distress and pain of the oppressed Dalit communities and more recently of religious minorities, needs to be recalled.

It also needs to be recalled that Armed Forces soldiers retire at ages 38 to 42, and invariably return to their roots in the farmer-worker communities. Especially in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and UP, their numbers are significant, and many of them are present among the protestors. The manner in which government has used force in dealing with peaceful protestors has not escaped the attention of serving soldiers, who will also in due course return to their roots.

The unfolding situation brings to mind Howard Zinn’s writing [Howard Zinn; “A People’s History of the United States” ; Harper, 2003] about the workers movements during the first six decades of the 20th Century in USA, and how the US Government dealt with them.

It is relevant to quote parts of Zinn’s book to point at the actions, reactions and motivations of the US government of those times being so similar in many respects, to those of our own government. However, there is one big difference. The outcome of the on-going farmer-worker protests in India cannot be compared to the workers protests in USA since the social-cultural-economic-political situations and the times are quite different.

While the workers movement did not succeed in USA, the on-going farmers-workers movement which has grown to its current scale and spread will ultimately succeed as the definitive expression of the will of We the People. India’s farmers-workers are peacefully yet strongly speaking Truth to Power.

Quotes from Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States”; Harper, 2003.

The 1930s & 1940s showed ... the dilemma of working people in USA. The system responded to workers’ rebellions by finding new forms of control – internal control by their own organizations as well as outside control by law and force. But along with the new controls came new concessions. These concessions didn’t solve basic problems; for many people they solved nothing. But they helped enough people to create an atmosphere of progress and improvement, to restore some faith in the system.

When the New Deal was over ... the rich still controlled the nation’s wealth, as well as its laws, courts, police, newspapers, churches, colleges. .... the same system that had brought depression and crisis – the system of waste, of inequality, of concern for profit over human need – remained.

It [WW2] was a war waged by a government whose chief beneficiary – despite volumes of reforms – was a wealthy elite. The alliance between big business and the government went back to ... the Revolutionary War. By WW2 that partnership had developed and intensified.... A few voices continued to insist that the real war was inside each nation.

The black revolt of the 1950s and 1960s – North and South – came as a surprise. But perhaps it should not have. The memory of oppressed people is one thing that cannot be taken away, and for such people, with such memories, revolt is always an inch below the surface. For blacks in the US, there was the memory of slavery, and after that of segregation, lynching, humiliation. And it was not just a memory but a living presence – part of the daily lives of blacks in generation after generation.

Major General S.G.Vombatkere (Retd) is a cross-discipline, systems-thinking sceptic.

Cover Photograph Ronak Chhabra, Newsclick